Patrik Krivanek: “Be an athlete”

Make contacts — Making contacts in any industry, especially in the film one, plays an important role in the development of your future career. More contacts mean more work and a chance to choose the best projects that are closer to your heart. I know many talented people with very small contact portfolios, working 350/365 days a […]

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Make contacts — Making contacts in any industry, especially in the film one, plays an important role in the development of your future career. More contacts mean more work and a chance to choose the best projects that are closer to your heart. I know many talented people with very small contact portfolios, working 350/365 days a year on projects they hate. They have money, but they are not happy — they don’t have hobbies and families. They very often “burn out”.

As part of our series about pop culture’s rising stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Patrik Krivanek, a Czech Film and TVC’s Director, Producer, and Writer. He is known for thought-provoking and visually-driven storytelling with an excellent eye for detail and excellent working with actors. He graduated from the world-renowned Film BA (Directing & Advanced Screenwriting) course at the Westminster Film School in the United Kingdom, where he was also the Vice President of the Film Society and Director of the Westminster Film Festival. He previously studied at the Film & TV School Wales (the University of South Wales — formerly Newport Film School). During his studies, he became a member of BAFTA Wales, a member of the British Film Institute (BFI), and a member of the Royal Television Society (RTS). His experience includes working on many short and feature films, high-end commercials, and television programs. In 2017, he worked as an Assistant Director on the Czech feature film Usmevy smutnych muzu (Smiles of Sad Men), which launched into cinemas in 2018 with an attendance of 180 thousand people in the first weeks. In 2019, the film was awarded the Czech Lion Award (Film Fans Award). Together with director Dan Svatek, he is now producing a new film, Dve slova jako klic (Two Words as the Key), to be shot all around the world. As a director, producer, and writer, he is also preparing his feature debut film, Muddy Shoes, with an expected cinema release in 2023. Additionally, he is an award-winning filmmaker. Many of the films he has written, directed or produced either won or were nominated for awards at the internationally recognized film festivals all around the world, including Los Angeles, New York, Austin, Toronto, London, Berlin, Cardiff, and Prague.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

Thank you very much for interviewing me! I was born in Czechoslovakia in the most beautiful city in the world: Prague. It was in 1987, at a time when our country was still under the occupation of the Soviet Union. People could not have their own opinions and very often were afraid of their own neighbors. We couldn’t travel and our parents never really had a chance to observe the world. But my mother never accepted these limitations and fought to raise me and my other three siblings the best she could. She always wanted the best for us. At one time we didn’t even have money to buy a bed so we slept on the floor. My mom was hungry very often because she gave her food to us. She always fought hard to equip us with abilities and have a better life than she did. She was saving money so she could send us on school trips. At school, we were often bullied for our financial situation, but our brave and loving mum never wanted us to lose our hope and dreams. She always believed that education is important, so she wanted to provide us with a safe environment to feel comfortable as much as it was possible. She was pushing us towards many hobbies, helping us to grow up with many memories. When I was 5 years old, she took me to the casting for a role in a student film filmed by the students of the Film and TV School of Academy of Performing Arts in Prague — FAMU. I was acting, but the smell of celluloid and watching a fast-paced film set full of creative people made me love filmmaking. I owe my mother a lot for this and since I’ve finished my college, I’ve been fighting to give her everything back. All her effort and hard work. The fact that she believed in me all her life. After many years of very hard work, it’s slowly paying off, because every little success is making my mother proud. I am happy to say that I grew up knowing that someone believed in me all the time and I am happy that she can finally see I am doing something I love.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

Apart from my child acting background, it’s one funny story when my mum took me and my older sister Kristyna to the cinema to see a family comedy about a dog called Beethoven. Luckily for my future love for the cinema, my mum entered the wrong screening room, where they were showing Dances with Wolves from Kevin Costner. It was screened in the cinema’s biggest screening room and, as I was very little, the projection screen was huge to me. Before my mum realized that we are were watching the wrong film, I experienced a very powerful scene where the Indians kills a person with their bows and arrows. The whole cinema full of adults was sobbing. I was a little terrified boy who could feel a very wide range of emotions. This was the time when I started to love films! Since then, I started watching many films every week, spending all of my pocket money for VHS rental. There were weeks when I watched 10 different films in different genres, but I never really watched cartoons like my peers. Love for cinema has accompanied me all my life but it took me many years before I started making my films. Before going into the film industry I spent 6 years in sales and operation positions in an international logistics company. The money I made there I spent on many different film courses, film equipment and traveling. The experiences, the skills I’ve gained there and the time I had to mature enough helped me to reach the first executive positions in the film industry later [in my life].

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

Many of my short films were watched by the legendary and my favorite film director Milos Forman. My mum was always messaging with Forman’s family and sending them all my films. I’ve been given feedback from Forman which was always giving me enough motivation to continue on my journey, to go straight and reach my dreams. I was also happy enough to meet and become a friend of Eva Holubova, one of the biggest actresses in Czech history. This connection is even stronger for me because Eva Holubova was a close friend of Milos Forman. I have great respect for Eva because of her talent but most importantly because of her personality. She is like an older sister for me and every time we meet I am learning a lot from her. I’m really glad that our paths have come together and I am planning a few different projects with her.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

They were many funny mistakes during the process of becoming a movie director but one made me sadder more than anything else. I was so ashamed, that it was making me want to quit. It was mostly in the time when I went to follow my dreams from the Czech Republic to the United Kingdom. I always thought I speak English well but after I came to the UK, while studying film at two highly regarded film schools, I’ve learned that I don’t speak it that well. Yes, I was using English in my previous jobs and never had problems with people understanding me, but working in film executive positions in Britain forced me to improve it. In my life, I experienced all kinds of accents of English from living 1,5 years in Scotland, 2 years in Wales, and 1,5 years in England and it made my brain a bit confused sometimes. Different and strong accents or even different phrases. Because of the language barrier, I wanted to sink to the ground. I would often squirm. Czech is a much-sophisticated language and sometimes I didn’t know how to explain myself simply. In the beginning, it was hard for me as a director who was on set watched by a crew of many people or actors trying to understand my directions. Sometimes, I was ashamed when people were joking about my English — about my accent or my pronunciation, but I never gave up and I started improving and forced myself to speak the language better. I also learned that I would never give up anything in my life because someone is laughing at me.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

Every project is exciting somehow but I am always picking projects which challenge me and my crew the most. I simply don’t like simple things. I always want to make every new project bigger. At the film schools in the UK, professors were always teaching us “do not film with kids” or “do not film with animals” but in my career, I experienced both and paradoxically found it fulfilling. My next two projects are called Muddy Shoes — which is a short 20-minute film written, directed, and produced by me — and a feature film called Two Words as the Key which I am Executive Producing. Muddy Shoes is a powerful and personal story about an important time in history, told from a unique viewpoint. It is a psychological description that depicts the atrocities that were carried out on defenseless people during WWII. Muddy Shoes will be shot in two different formats; 35mm digital and super 16mm film — Each section will be shot in an equally distinctive format to separate the two different time periods as the film’s story is based in 1943 and 2010. This film is full of kids and has a little cat so it has everything I was taught not to do! ☺ To make it even more difficult, I have written rain and burning houses in the screenplay and it will be a low budget film! Two Words as the Key is an independent feature film directed by the Czech Film Director Dan Svatek and with a production budget under 2.5 million dollars. It will be shot all around the world (USA, India, Nepal, Indonesia, Japan, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Lithuania, and Poland) in 2020–2021. Together with Dan and Josef Formanek (the writer of the book Two Words as the Key), I have promoted this film at The Marché du Film Producers Network in Cannes during the Cannes Film Festival 2019. If you were enthralled by the atmosphere of films such as Magnolia, Life of Pi, Baraka, or Babel, then you have something to really look forward to!

We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?

It’s extremely important to have diversity in the entertainment industry because it’s important to see things from different perspectives. Projects are massively benefiting from the diversity of people working on them! We can’t forget that we are living in one world with many different minorities and cultures which we have to respect and must represent their views too. Diversity in the entertainment industry is the future of our colorful art.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

Here, I would answer 5 things that good a friend of mine recommended me and I am trying to follow because it was always very helpful for me:

“Be an athlete” — Follow a healthy lifestyle, because that’s the only way you can work effectively for a long period of time:

“Eat well” — Try to avoid fast-food and junk food because your body will need to remain resilient. Don’t burden your body with bad food!

Sleep well” — Try to avoid fatigue! It’s very important to sleep well between the work/shooting days — Your safety, but also safety of your colleagues, comes first!

“Exercise” — Stay in a shape — This will help you remain healthy

“Repeat all above”

I am also adding (very important!):

Make contacts — Making contacts in any industry, especially in the film one, plays an important role in the development of your future career. More contacts mean more work and a chance to choose the best projects that are closer to your heart. I know many talented people with very small contact portfolios, working 350/365 days a year on projects they hate. They have money, but they are not happy — they don’t have hobbies and families. They very often “burn out”.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Be an athlete: 1/ Eat well 2/ Sleep well 3/ Exercise and repeat. Also, try to improve something you don’t excel at. You might not know, but you can excel in things you were the worst at! It’s always about the mindset — You can do anything and everything. If you are trying to reach your dreams but they are nowhere close to being seen, try another way. But also remember it’s not a weakness if you feel down sometimes — Let’s talk — talk to the person next to you or talk to me. You are not alone and we have all been there. Just take a break, calm down, try again, and remember: there is a sun behind the clouds.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Every day smile at 3 different strangers and make the smile be followed by the simple question: “May I help you with something?”

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My mum for everything she taught me, my family, and all of my friends for believing me, especially, Lukas Vrsecky, Barbora Vrsecka, and Matheus Gomes Diniz for their continuous support. Also, director Dan Svatek, actress Eva Holubova and her family for supporting my career and without which I would not be where I am now.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Good things don’t come easy”. I always believed in hard work and was always setting myself the highest goals. I believe that it is the correct way to succeed. If I want to win a war, I know that there may be a fight but I also know that it’s possible to win the war without any bloodshed. In my life, I learned the power of honesty, but I also learned to listen to others, even though I don’t always have to agree with their opinion. There is always a way to find agreement in disagreement and even the worst enemies can be your friends one day.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

Steven Spielberg! — Dear Mr. Spielberg, if you see this, I invite you for lunch! ☺

How can our readers follow you online?

The best way to follow me are:

Instagram: @patrikkrivanek

Twitter: @patrikkrivanek

Facebook: @filmsbypatrikkrivanek




This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!

Once more, thank you for interviewing me and I wish continued success to you and all of your readers!

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